Flooring 101 – Back to the Basics: Composition of Wood Floors

rift, quarter and plain or flat sawn cuts of wood floors

So now that you know a little bit more about wood floors, maybe now you can understand why most people don’t really know much about them. It’s not as if the topic is so difficult to understand, it’s simply due to lots of information being needed to know in order to make an informed decision, but we haven’t even told you the half of it yet. Up next is composition of wood floors, the second of the three basic ideas to get down about hardwood flooring. Composition of your floor is only one of two options: solid or engineered. Laminate doesn’t count, and we’ll get to that much later in the series. Solid wood flooring consists of wood planks that are made up of only one species of wood. For example, if someone were to say they wanted “Unfinished Solid Oak Floor”, then that means the floors they would like are going to be made of only Oak wood. 

Besides being made up of only one species of wood, solid floor is even more durable and can be refinished multiple times. Hardwood Refinishing is something that will be explained later. However, all of these benefits come at a price. Literally, solid flooring is more expensive than engineered floors. The reason behind this is because the manufacturer is using a lot of one resource to build your floor. The more real wood in your floor, the more expensive it ends up being. On the other hand, engineered wood is more suited for the budget-savvy individual. Engineered wood floors are somewhat like a sandwich The top and bottom parts (the bread) are made of your desired species, and the middle (the meat and cheese) is just plywood, filler material.

This lowers the price of the floor considerably, but it also decreases the quality. The quality doesn’t take a dip in look, because solid and engineered look virtually the same, but it is noticeable when selling the home/office or when doing renovations. Since there is cheaper material in your floor, it lowers its natural strength, and this translates to not being able to refinish that floor as many times as a solid floor. However, that’s not to say engineered floors are bad. Far from it, because engineered floors are more affordable, and more importantly engineered hardwood floors still last for a long time when compared to carpeting or tile. So really, there are no bad decisions between choosing solid or engineered.


solid, engineered, laminate and cork - composition of wood floors diagram


1. Solid Hardwood Floors

Each board of solid wood is made from just one piece of lumber. They usually have a tongue and groove joint on both sides and ends of the planks as well. Timber is product of nature and is always susceptible to dimensional change due to the humidity and moisture. Therefore, each installation needs to be professionally assessed by a  state-certified flooring contractor and properly acclimated before the installation of hardwood floors begins.

2. Engineered Wood Floors

Not only do engineered wood floors offer more stability but also come in a wider variety of designs. Engineered floors are normally constructed with three separate layers which use chosen species as a top wear layer and a central core of either high density fiberboard (known as HDF) or something called ‘softwood’ with birch plywood. Top wear layers range from 0.6 millimeters to 6.0 millimeters, depending on the product’s specifications of course. Sometimes a squeaking sound may develop if the subfloor is not immaculately flattened.

3. Imitation-Wood or Laminate Flooring

Laminate floors are constructed from High Density Fiberboard that are coated in a heavy wood grain foil decorated to look like real wood. The final layer is a transparent but hard-wearing plastic used solely for laminated coatings otherwise known as a melamine. Imitation wood-floors are easily distinguishable between real hardwoods because of the nearly identical design pattern on each slab of laminated flooring. Laminate is the more affordable option of all types of wood flooring.

4. Cork-Oak Floors

Corking wood flooring is made from the ground pieces mixed with resin of bark that comes off of cork oak trees. The mixture is then pressed into thin sheets that are applied to floor-like linoleum. Cork flooring is incredibly comfortable because of its cork-backing. It is also very good at keeping sounds isolated, hence making it sound-proof. Cork-made wood flooring comes in a vast variety of beautifully colored top layers and is very easy to install because of its glue less locking functionality adding more benefits to having hardwood floors, period!


Tune in for our next captivating article on Finishes

If you have any questions in regard to composition of wood floors, please feel free to call us  or send us an e-mail. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have on composition, or anything else you have doubts on. If you’d like, we can also set up an appointment for you with our estimator, free of charge or obligation. Whatever you need, Century Custom Hardwood Floors is here for you. Choose us for all of you hardwood flooring questions and needs, you won’t regret it.  Just  take a look at  what some of our happy clients said about US!